According to Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com, the Mavericks are considered the frontrunners to sign New York Knicks forward Amar’e Stoudemire if his contract is bought out by New York.
The Mavericks remain keen to sign Stoudemire’s fellow former All-Star big man Jermaine O’Neal, sources said, and are prepared to make the needed roster room to accommodate both O’Neal and Stoudemire should they become available.
Stoudemire, 32, told Yahoo! Sports that he is reluctant to leave New York due to his loyalty to the Knicks, but he wants to play for a contender and distance himself from the losing ways that have become synonymous with Knicks basketball. Stoudemire told Yahoo! that the constant losses have left him feeling unmotivated.
“The toughest part is staying motivated through all the ups and downs, keeping the guys competitive,” Stoudemire said. “This requires an extreme, great amount of perseverance for something like this, especially for me to be 13 years in the NBA and dealing with this type of record.
“It’s not an easy decision to make,” Stoudemire told Yahoo Sports. “Over time, we will see how things pan out. You give yourself a break during the All-Star break. You think about it with your family. …That will give me a good solid week on how to weigh out the rest of the season.”
All possibilities at this point are still open,” Stoudemire said of a possible buyout. “The door is still open for that. But at the same time, I am with the Knicks now. I got to stay optimistic about things and what we are doing here. I can’t really focus on the future because it’s not here.
Stoudemire is in the final year of his five-year, $99.7 million contract with New York, and would have to sign for the veterans minimum in Dallas. Despite the major dollar differential, Stoudemire would be an important part of a championship caliber team, as he would divide minutes with Tyson Chandler and Dirk Nowitzki.
When healthy Stoudemire has been solid this season for the Knicks, averaging 12.1 points and 6.9 rebounds per game. He’s appeared in 33 contests for New York this year, in spite of the fact that he’s battled a multitude of injuries. Stoudemire has sat out games due to ankle, wrist and knee problems, and he has missed 14 of the Knicks last 18 contests.
The former Phoenix Sun would be a solid pickup for Dallas, as he and Jermaine O’Neal could potentially be the stabilizers of the relatively thin Mavericks bench. The current crop of free agent bigs isn’t that strong, and the assets that Dallas had stashed away were shipped out in the Tyson Chandler and Rajon Rondo trades.
So if you are going to pay a big man the veteran’s minimum to provide scoring off of the bench, why not have it be Stoudemire? He’s proven to be effective when healthy, and he could see somewhat of a rejuvenation in a winning environment. His history of nagging injuries may leave Mark Cuban and company a little petrified, but in a wide open NBA season, it’s a gamble they are willing to take.